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Economy

Regulator abolishes cooking gas cylinder exchange pool

Consumers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) are headed back to the old regime of having to exchange their empty cylinders for same brands, ending a decade of shopping convenience.

The revised Energy (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Regulations of 2009, which take effect this week, have abolished the mandatory cylinder exchange pool that marketers blame for opening unsafe parallel refilling channel.

Under the changes to be gazette on Friday, all cooking gas players will be in charge of their own cylinders “for purposes of accountability”. The practice at the moment is that Kenyans walk to any outlet and exchange empty cylinders for a refilled brand as long as the size is the same since all the containers are fitted with universal valves.

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) Director-General Pavel Oimeke said consumers will have a choice to retain the current cylinder or return them to brand owners in exchange for deposit cash to buy alternative ones of their choice.

“The mandatory exchange pool will cease but mutual agreements between marketers who trust the standards of one another will be allowed once the rules are gazetted later this week,” Mr Oimeke said.

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The marketers coming together to create an exchange pool under new regulations will be required to get the nod of the Completion Authority of Kenya in a move meant to check any cartel-like behaviours that mat threaten competition in the market.

The cylinder valves will, however, remain standardised in what may still pose a risk to the cylinder owners since crooks could still hijack and rebrand them for illegal refilling.

The industry’s lobby, Petroleum Institute for East Africa lauded the move as the best cure for the “chaos” that have characterised the cylinder pool with some marketers said to have held hefty debt and created an artificial cylinder shortage in the process.

PIEA Chairman Olagoke Aluko said the oil marketers will now be able to interact with their cylinders and monitor their movements with safety guarantees through regular servicing.

“Almost 90 per cent of our cylinders have been circulating out of our control. The new approach will now allow us to monitor and take full responsibilities for our cylinders as well as invest more in buying them and deepen LPG access,” Mr Aluko said.

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